Saturday, October 13, 2012
Bloggers Dressed in Blood: The Hallowed Ones
This post is part of Bloggers Dressed in Blood, hosted by The Fake Steph Dot Com, Midnight Book Girl, My Mercurial Musings and On the Wings of Books!
The Hallowed Ones is a book that wasn't even on my radar, but I highly recommend that you check it out if you like suspenseful, scary books:
Published on September 25, 2012
by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Borrowed from the library
My summary: It's late September -- nearly time for Rumspringa, a tradition in which young Amish men and women are encouraged to leave the fold and experience secular life before returning to undergo baptism. Katie can't wait -- she's looking forward to wearing jeans and going to the movies. But when strange things start happen -- a helicopter crash, abandoned cars -- it becomes apparent that something's gone terribly wrong in the world. The Amish close their gates to the danger and Katie will have to decide if the greatest threat to her life lies outside her safe, familiar community ... or within it.
My take: Whoa! I didn't know anything at all about this book and I was blown away. The Hallowed Ones is a thinking person's thriller, a post-apocalyptic horror story that's both truly scary and deeply thoughtful. Katie is a great heroine -- a dutiful daughter and loyal friend. She feels safe in her small, conservative group of Plain folk, but she's also deeply curious about life outside.
When an apocalyptic disaster strikes -- I don't want to say exactly what and spoil the suspense -- the Amish elders preach that tragedy is God's will and obedience is required. Katie tries to follow the rules, but she just can't help but question them. And break them. Will her rebellious ways lead to her salvation or her downfall? I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out.
Sorry to be so vague -- there's nothing worse than diluting the suspense of a scary book with spoilers. So I won't. But I can tell you what I loved about this book without spoiling a thing. Some horror and post-apocalyptic books are just sheer white-knuckle entertainment, and that's fine. But I really appreciate it when an author is able to show the downfall of humanity while also raising questions about what it means to be human.
So, while it was busy scaring the pants off me, The Hallowed Ones was also making me think about the connections between faith and danger -- can believing and trusting in a higher power protect you from evil? Can obedience and piety keep you safe? The book weaves in themes of inside versus outside, purity versus contamination, free will versus God's will. And ... to my delight after recently reading a bunch of so-called YA that really didn't feel much like YA, The Hallowed Ones features a character who is facing not just the usual adolescent challenges, but unique cultural and religious ones as well.
Of course, all this philisophical stuff is woven in so cleverly that you hardly notice it's there. From the very first pages, this book drew me in with its ominous imagery and a sense of unease that builds steadily. My heart was pounding as I read, and I could hardly put the book down. I highly recommend it!